ONE of Bradford’s biggest schools has once again been judged Inadequate by Ofsted inspectors.

After a recent visit to Hanson School in Swain House inspectors raised concerns about the number of pupils with poor attendance and high levels of exclusions.

And they say school leaders have “not won the hearts and minds” of some students.

It is the latest setback for the school, which has over 1,600 pupils on its rolls.

The Department for Education ordered Hanson to become an academy in 2011, after it had been placed in special measures the previous year.

But since then attempts to turn the school into an academy have failed, despite the involvement of three academy trusts since then.

Hanson school's £4.16 million deficit to be discussed

The school has been in special measures for six of the past 10 years, and had five headteachers in that period.

The school is also running at a huge financial deficit - in January it was reported the school was over £4 million in the red.

At the school’s last Ofsted inspection in early 2018, Hanson was judged to Require Improvement - a step up from Inadequate.

Inspectors returned to the school in early March, and have just published their latest judgement on the school.

Most the most recent Academy Trust to be involved in the schools was The Gorse Academies Trust - which the Department for Education commissioned to run the school.

It did so from early 2018 to last July - when it withdrew. 

Since then Bradford Council has run the school, and the authority has raised concerns about the latest report - claiming it refers to "long standing" issues with the school rather than its current situation.

In the new report Hanson was rated inadequate for "Behaviours and Attitude" and "Leadership and Management."

It was judged to require improvement in all other categories.

The report says: “Many pupils feel happy and safe at Hanson School. Most pupils behave well and have positive attitudes in lessons.

"However, a sizeable minority of pupils do not regularly follow the school rules. Leaders are working hard to improve attendance, but a significant number of pupils still do not come to school often enough.

“Leaders are aware that attendance is low and too many pupils are frequently absent from school.

“Despite their efforts, leaders have not been able to make any real improvement in overall attendance since the previous inspection.

“The situation in relation to exclusions from school is similar. When compared with similar schools across the country, the number of exclusions is high. Too many pupils are excluded on more than one occasion.

“Leaders are aware that they have not won the hearts and minds of a sizeable minority of pupils.

"Pupils, including disadvantaged pupils and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), do not achieve as well as they should. They are falling behind other pupils in the country who have similar starting points."

It points out that Bradford Council took further steps to turn the school around starting in September 2019, but adds: "It is too soon to see the impact of this, particularly on pupils’ behaviour and attendance."

Councillor Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “We have raised some concerns with Ofsted about the report. 

“The Gorse Academies Trust, was appointed by the Department of Education as the third Multi Academy Trust in nine years and commissioned to run the school.  They did so from January 2018 to July 2019 and were given the task to address governance, leadership and improve the school overall.

“We are concerned that the Ofsted report identifies many long-standing issues regarding these same areas even after the Department of Education’s intervention. 

“The Council has recently taken back the running of the school following the withdrawal of TGAT and have already raised our concerns with the Department for Education’s Regional Schools Commissioner.

“Since returning, we have taken swift and decisive action. A robust package of direct support has been put in place to address issues with learning, attendance and behaviour. We also recruited additional governors to strengthen the governing body.

 “We are confident that with our support the school is now making strong and rapid progress to becoming the school that the pupils and their families deserve.

“We hope that school is now given the chance to continue driving forward with improvements and not subjected to another disruptive move to make it an academy.”

Jon Hairsine, Chair of Governors, said: “Following the withdrawal of TGAT and their appointed governors, the local authority recruited new governors which included me as the new chair of governors, which I took up from September 2019. 

“As a ‘National Leader of Governance’, who has had the opportunity to play a part in leading the significant improvement of a number of schools across the region over the last nine years, I believe I have learned to recognise when a school has, and has not, got the capacity to improve at a significant pace so that it can fully meet the expectations of the community it serves.

“The recent judgement seems to me more of a reflection of the troubled recent history of the school, and does not accurately reflect the quality of the current school leadership team and governing board.  We as new leaders are dedicated to the children who attend the school and want to make sure we give them the best start in life.”

For several years Hanson School, its performance and its deficit has been a major issue facing Bradford Council.

Councillor David Ward (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe) has long called for more to be done to improve the financial situation and the educational standards at Hanson.

Describing the latest report as "disappointing" he said: "It is a strange report in some ways because the judgements are not truly reflected in the narrative, especially in terms of the Leadership and Management which are judged to be ‘Inadequate’.

"The local community has a right to high quality education for its young people but the report suggests this is still some way off.

"The legacy of the Council’s failure to make the changes needed after the 2010 Ofsted Inspection that first put the school into Special Measures still dogs the school.

"Anyone who can help the school, should help the school – others have turned such schools round and there is no inevitability in the continuing failure of this once great school."

Cllr Geoff Winnard (Cons, Bingley) and Shadow Education spokesman said: “The news that the  Hanson Schools one of Bradford’s largest schools has now been rated ‘inadequate ‘ by OFSTED is a very worrying development –  the performance of the school seems to be going backwards.

"Pupils at Hanson  are entitled to a good standard of education and this it seems is not now  being provided.

"The performance of the schools combined with the significant financial challenges they face  with debts of over £4M  must not be  ignored by Bradford Council and urgent action is needed.

"After a process of nearly nine years -  It’s clear that no  Academy chain will be prepared to take on the school under the current financial circumstances.

"The Council must seek urgent discussions with Education Ministers  to see if a realistic solution can be found to resolve the future of Hanson School.”